TJ Dillashaw and the Blurring of Reality

Each individual has one responsibility above all else. It is to find your life pattern. The pattern is not always set out for us. More often than not, it is hidden and we must search for it. But once you find your pattern, you must trust it, believe in it, and forge a path for yourself. You work hard, and if it is the correct path, then your efforts will have more effect than if you were on the wrong path. The pattern, the path, the focus and the belief allow you to blur the lines of reality such that the success and the victory you visualize in your mind will inevitably become an undeniable reality.

At UFC 173, the fight world witnessed a spectacular fight in TJ Dillashaw versus Renan Barao. A spectacular fight is not always easy to come by. Almost like the cultivation of a Brazil Nut Tree, all the elements must be perfectly, immaculately, aligned in order for a spectacular fight to happen. The fighters, the context, the expectation of the audience… Renan Barao and TJ Dillashaw, competing for the UFC Bantamweight Championship in a fight where almost the entire fight world wrote off to be another easy victory for the Champion. That night, that fight, that belt. The elements were aligned and TJ Dillashaw vs Renan Baroa turned out to be a spectacular fight, an apt display of the beauty in MMA.

If you were a fight fan like me, the lustre of the fight will fade slowly and you may end up asking yourself, how did TJ Dillashaw do it? Not to take anything away from TJ, but Renan Barao is a better fighter. On any given Saturday night (except of course 24th May 2014), Renan Barao would win. The difference between the two fighters is that TJ Dillashaw has found his life pattern and has dedicated every ounce of his reality into his victory.

What is TJ’s pattern and path? TJ Dillashaw is often described as an incredibly competitive and incredibly dedicated person. It is because of this drive that amongst his friends and family, TJ is known as a slightly different more intense individual. Team captain Urijah Faber describes him as a fighter who shows heart and a competitive spirit. Since his first day of joining Team Alpha Male, TJ Dillashaw was so competitive in the gym he would try and work harder than everybody else, execute the take down harder, and execute the combination better. He would even try and drink his water faster. It is this strong and straight mind that is TJ’s pattern. An intense focus and a competitive spirit is his style, his modus operandi. His path as a professional fighter was the pursuit of the UFC Bantamweight Championship. His pattern laid the perfect foundation for TJ to focus on this path.  All TJ lacked was the tools to get there.

In December of 2012, Duane “Bang” Ludwig became the head coach of Team Alpha Male. A successful Muay Thai and MMA fighter in his own right, Duane Ludwig put together a system of striking that has worked well for Team Alpha Male fighters. And especially well for TJ Dillashaw. The memorization, the drilling, the visualization of Duane’s long, complicated, but effective combinations provided TJ with the deadly tools that perfectly matched his competitive and dedicated nature. Whether in the gym or in the cage, TJ gets on his bicycle of excellent and active footwork. Every opening and opportunity, TJ will instinctively find and naturally move into the right angle to execute a Duane Ludwig combination. Wrestling, Mixed Martial Arts, Team Alpha Male, Duane Ludwig. TJ slowly but surely felt out his path.

The result of finding his pattern and path? Since TJ Dillashaw started training under Duane Ludwig, he has had five fights. In these five fights we have seen the quick and ferocious evolution of TJ’s fighting. The ultimate display, but perhaps not yet the pinnacle, is the title fight with Renan Barao. That night, TJ put on a Duane Ludwig striking clinic and gave the world a spectacular MMA fight. TJ found his pattern, forged his path, and followed it. It didn’t matter what the rest of the world thought. It didn’t matter that he went into the Renan Barao fight as one of the biggest UFC event underdogs. TJ had his victory set in his mind, and with his pattern and path aligned, he would blur the lines between visualization and reality until they were one and the same.

Each one of us must find our life pattern and life path. We only have one life to do it. It’s not easy, it never is. And perhaps the most difficult part of the search is that everything you are looking for is likely to have been sitting under your nose the entire time. Once you find it, the flow, the success, the fulfillment that comes with it. The rest of the world melts away and the only thing that exists is the narrow slice of light and space that is your path and your next combination.


1 Comment

  1. curiousbystander

    June 3, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    What are your thoughts regarding the trend towards successful fighters having wrestling backgrounds?

    Is it easier for wrestlers to learn striking than for strikers to learn how to wrestle/grapple?

    Or is this exactly what it is . . . a trend?

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